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# Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey

## Ações de livro

Comece a ler- Editora:
- Dover Publications
- Lançado em:
- Jul 4, 2013
- ISBN:
- 9780486317359
- Formato:
- Livro

## Descrição

## Ações de livro

Comece a ler## Dados do livro

# Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey

## Descrição

- Editora:
- Dover Publications
- Lançado em:
- Jul 4, 2013
- ISBN:
- 9780486317359
- Formato:
- Livro

## Sobre o autor

## Relacionado a Tuning and Temperament

## Amostra do livro

### Tuning and Temperament - J. Murray Barbour

Fludd’s Monochord, with Pythagorean Tuning and Associated Symbolism Reproduced by courtesy of the Library of Cornell University

**Tuning and Temperament **

A Historical Survey

J. Murray Barbour

Dover Publications, Inc.

Mineola, New York

**Bibliographical Note **

This Dover edition, first published in 2004, is an unabridged republication of the work originally published by Michigan State College Press, East Lansing, 1951. The frontispiece has been printed on the inside of the front cover and as a result the present volume begins on page iii. Nothing has been omitted from this edition.

**Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data **

Barbour, J. Murray (James Murray), 1897-

Tuning and temperament: a historical survey / J. Murray Barbour.

p. cm.

Originally published: East Lansing: Michigan State Press, 1951.

Includes bibliographical references (p.).

ISBN 0-486-43406-0 (pbk.)

1. Tuning. 2. Musical temperament. I. Title.

ML3809.B234 2004

784.192’8—dc22

2004043835

Manufactured in the United States by Courier Corporation

43406004

**www.doverpublications.com **

### PREFACE

This book is based upon my unpublished Cornell dissertation, Equal Temperament: Its History from Ramis (1482) to Rameau (1737), Ithaca, 1932. As the title indicates, the emphasis in the dissertation was upon individual writers. In the present work the emphasis is on the theories rather than on their promulgators. Since a great many tuning systems are discussed, a separate chapter is devoted to each of the principal varieties of tuning, with subsidiary divisions wherever necessary. Even so, the whole subject is so complex that it seemed best that these chapters be preceded by a running account (with a minimum of mathematics) of the entire history of tuning and temperament. **Chapter I also contains the principal account of the Pythagorean timing, for it is unnecessary to spend a chapter upon a tuning system that exists in one form only. **

Most technical terms will be defined when they first occur, as well as in the Glossary, but a few of these terms should be defined immediately. Of small intervals arising from tuning, the comma is the most familiar. The ordinary (syntonic or Ptolemaic) comma is the interval between a just major third, with ratio 5:4, and a Pythagorean ditone or major third, with ratio 81:64. The ratio of the comma (the ratio of an interval is obtained by dividing the ratio of the higher pitch by that of the lower) is 81:80.

The Pythagorean (ditonic) comma is the interval between six tones, with ratio 531441:262144, and the pure octave, with ratio 2:1. Thus its ratio is 531441:524288, which is approximately 74:73. The ditonic comma is about 12/11 as large as the syntonic comma. In general, when the word comma is used without qualification, the syntonic comma is meant.

There is necessarily some elasticity in the manner in which the different tuning systems are presented in the following chapters. Sometimes a writer has described the construction of a monochord, a note at a time. That can be set down easily in the form of ratios. More often he has expressed his monochord as a series of string-lengths, with a convenient length for the fundamental. (Except in the immediate past, the use of vibration numbers, inversely proportional to the string-lengths, has been so rare that it can be ignored.) Or he may speak of there being so many pure fifths, and other fifths flattened by a fractional part of the comma. Such systems could be transformed into equivalent string-lengths, but this has not been done in this book when the original writer had not done so.

Systems with intervals altered by parts of a comma can be shown without difficulty in terms of Ellis’ logarithmic unit called the cent, the hundredth part of an equally tempered semitone, or 1/1200 part of an octave.* Since the ratio of the octave is 2:1, the cent is 2¹/¹²⁰⁰. As a matter of fact, such eighteenth century writers on temperament as Neidhardt and Marpurg had a tuning unit very similar to the cent: the twelfth part of the ditonic comma, which they used, is 2 cents, thus making the octave contain 600 parts instead of 1200.

The systems originally expressed in string-lengths or ratios may be translated into cents also, although with greater difficulty. They have been so expressed in the tables of this book, in the belief that the cents representation is the most convenient way of affording comparisons between systems. In systems where it was thought they would help to clarify the picture, exponents have been attached to the names of the notes. With this method, devised by Eitz, all notes joined by pure fifths have the same exponent. Since the fundamental has a zero exponent, all the notes of the Pythagorean tuning have zero exponents. The exponent -1 is attached to notes a comma lower than those with zero exponents, i.e., to those forming pure thirds above those in the zero series. Thus in just intonation the notes forming a major third would be C⁰-E_1, etc. Similarly, notes that are pure thirds lower than notes already in the system have exponents which are greater by one than those of the higher notes. This use of exponents is especially advantageous in comparing various systems of just intonation (see **Chapter V). It may be used also, with fractional exponents, for the different varieties of the meantone temperament. If the fifth C-G, for example, is tempered by 1/4 comma, these notes would be labeled C⁰ and G-1/4. **

A device related to the use of integral exponents for the notes in just intonation is the arrangement of such notes to show their harmonic relationships. Here, all notes that are related by fifths, i.e., that have the same exponent, lie on the same horizontal line, while their pure major thirds lie in a parallel line above them, each forming a 45° angle with the related note below. Since the pure minor thirds below the original notes are lower by a fifth than the major thirds above them, they will lie in the same higher line, but will form 135° angles with the original notes. For example:

This arrangement is especially good for showing extensions of just intonation with more than twelve notes in the octave, and it is used for that purpose only in this book (see **Chapter VI). **

It is desirable to have some method of evaluating the various tuning systems. Since equal temperament is the ideal system of twelve notes if modulations are to be made freely to every key, the semitone of equal temperament, 100 cents, is taken as the ideal, from which the deviation of each semitone, as C-C#, C#-D, D-Eb, etc., is calculated in cents. These deviations are then added and the sum divided by twelve to find the mean deviation (M.D.) in cents. The standard deviation (S.D.) is found in the usual manner, by taking the root-mean-square.

It should be added that there may be criteria for excellence in a tuning system other than its closeness to equal temperament. For example, if no notes beyond Eb or G# are used in the music to be performed and if the greatest consonance is desired for the notes that are used, then probably the 1/5 comma variety of mean - tone temperament would be the ideal, since its fifths and thirds are altered equally, the fifths being 1/5 comma flat and its thirds 1/5 comma sharp. If keys beyond two flats or three sharps are to be touched upon occasionally, but if it is considered desirable to have the greatest consonance in the key of C and the least in the key of Gb, then our Temperament by Regularly Varied Fifths would be the best. This is a matter that is discussed in detail at the end of **Chapter VII, but it should be mentioned now. **

My interest in temperament dates from the time in Berlin when Professor Curt Sachs showed me his copy of Mersenne’s Harmonie universelle. I am indebted to Professor Otto Kinkeldey, my major professor at Cornell, and to the Misses Barbara Duncan and Elizabeth Schmitter of the Sibley Musical Library of the Eastman School of Music, for assistance rendered during my work on the dissertation. Most of my more recent research has been at the Library of Congress. Dr. Harold Spivacke and Mr. Edward N. Waters of the Music Division there deserve especial thanks for encouraging me to write this book. I want also to thank the following men for performing so well the task of reading the manuscript: Professor Charles Warren Fox, Eastman School of Music; Professor Bonnie M. Stewart, Michigan State College; Dr. Arnold Small, San Diego Navy Electronics Laboratory; and Professor Glen Haydon, University of North Carolina.

J. Murray Barbour

November, 1950

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

It is gratifying that the sales of this book have warranted a second edition. In it several minor errors have been rectified. But thé major changes are in the Index. There the serious errors in pagination have been corrected, and, following a suggestion made by Professor David D. Boyden, University of California, most of the cross references have been replaced by direct page references. These changes should increase the value of Tuning and Temperament as a reference work.

J. M. B.

East Lansing, Michigan

September, 1952

### GLOSSARY

Arithmetical Division — The equal division of the difference between two quantities, so that the resultant forms an arithmetical progression, as 9:8:7:6.

Bonded Clavichord — A clavichord upon which two or more consecutive semitones were produced upon a single string.

Circle of Fifths — The arrangement of the notes of a closed system by fifths, as C, G, D, A, E, etc.

Circulating Temperaments — Temperaments in which all keys are playable, but in which keys with few sharps or flats are favored.

Closed System — A regular temperament in which the initial note is eventually reached again.

Column of Differences — See Tabular Differences.

Comma — A tuning error, such as the interval B#-C in the Pythagorean tuning. See Ditonic Comma and Syntonic Comma.

Diesis — The interval (roughly 1/5 tone) between two enharmonically equivalent notes, as Ab and G#, in just intonation or meantone temperament. Its ratio is 128:125 or about 41 cents.

Ditone — A major third, especially one formed by two equal tones, as in the Pythagorean tuning (81:64).

Ditonic Comma — The interval between two enharmonically equivalent notes, as B# and C, in the Pythagorean tuning. Its ratio is 531441:524288 or approximately 74:73, and it is conventionally taken as 24 cents.

Duplication of the Cube — A problem of antiquity, equivalent to finding two geometrical means between two quantities one of which is twice as large as the other, or to finding the cube root of 2.

Exponents — In tuning theory integral and fractional exponents are used to indicate deviations from the Pythagorean tuning, the unit being the syntonic comma.

Euclidean Construction — Euclid’s method for finding a mean proportional between two lines, by describing a semicircle upon the sum of the lines taken as a diameter and then erecting a perpendicular at the juncture of the two lines.

Fretted Clavichord — See Bonded Clavichord.

Fretted Instruments — Such modern instruments as the guitar and banjo, or the earlier lute and viol.

Generalized Keyboard — A keyboard arranged conveniently for the performance of multiple divisions.

Geometrical Division — The proportional division of two quantities, so that the resultant forms a geometrical progression, as 27:18:12:8.

.

Good Temperaments — See Circulating Temperaments.

Irregular System — Any tuning system with more than one oddsized fifth, with the exception of just intonation.

Just —Pure: A term applied to intervals, as the just major third.

Just Intonation — A system of tuning based on the octave (2:1), the pure fifth (3:2), and the pure major third (5:4).

Linear Correction — The arithmetical division of the error in a string-length.

Mean-Semitone Temperament — A temperament in which the diatonic notes are in meantone temperament, and the chromatic notes are taken as halves of meantones.

and pure major thirds (5:4). See Varieties of Meantone Temperament.

Each meride was divisible into 7 eptamerides, and each of the eptamerides into 10 decamerides.

Mesolabium — An instrument of the ancients for finding mechanically 2 mean proportionals between 2 given lines. See illustration, p. 51.

Monochord — A string stretched over a wooden base upon which are indicated the string-lengths for some tuning system; a diagram containing these lengths; directions for constructing such a diagram.

Monopipe — A variable open pipe, with indicated lengths for a scale in a particular tuning system, thus fulfilling a function similar to that of a monochord.

Multiple Division — The division of the octave into more than 12 parts, equal or unequal.

Negative System — A regular system whose fifth has a ratio smaller than 3:2.

Positive System — A regular system whose fifth has a ratio larger than 3:2.

Ptolemaic Comma — See Syntonic Comma.

Pythagorean Comma — See Ditonic Comma.

Pythagorean Tuning — A system of tuning based on the octave (2:1) and the pure fifth (3:2).

Regular Temperament — A temperament in which all the fifths save one are of the same size, such as the Pythagorean tuning or the meantone temperament. (Equal temperament, with all fifths equal, is also a regular temperament, and so are the closed systems of multiple division.)

Schisma — The difference between the syntonic and ditonic commas, with ratio 32805:32768, or approximately 2 cents.

Semi-Meantone Temperament — See Mean-Semitone Temperament.

Sesqui- — The prefix used to designate a superparticular ratio, as sesquitertia (4:3).

Sexagesimal Notation — The use of 60 rather than 10 as a base of numeration, as in the measurement of angles.

Split Keys — Separate keys on a keyboard instrument for such a pair of notes as G# and Ab.

String-Length — The portion of a string on the monochord that will produce a desired pitch.

Subsemitonia — See Split Keys.

Superparticular Ratio — A ratio in which the antecedent exceeds the consequent by 1, as 5:4. See Sesqui-.

Syntonic Comma — The interval between a just major third (5:4) and a Pythagorean third (81:64). Its ratio is 81:80 and it is conventionally taken as 22 cents.

Tabular Differences — The differences between the successive terms in a sequence of numbers, such as a geometrical progression.

Temper - To vary the pitch slightly. A tempered fifth is specifically a flattened fifth.

Temperament — A system, some or all of whose intervals cannot be expressed in rational numbers.

A Tuning — A system all of whose intervals can be expressed in rational numbers.

Tuning Pipe — See Monopipe.

Unequal Temperament — Any temperament other than equal temperament, particularly the meantone temperament or some variety thereof.

Varieties of Meantone Temperament — Regular temperaments formed on the same principle as the meantone temperament, with flattened fifths and (usually) sharp thirds.

Wolf Fifth — The dissonant fifth, usually G#-Eb (notated as a diminished sixth), in any unequal temperament, such as the meantone wolf fifth of 737 cents.

### CONTENTS

**Preface **

**Glossary **

** I. History of Tuning and Temperament **

** II. Greek Tunings **

** III. Meantone Temperament **

**Other Varieties of Meantone Temperament **

** IV. Equal Temperament **

**Geometrical and Mechanical Approximations **

**Numerical Approximations **

** V. Just Intonation **

**Theory of Just Intonation **

** VI. Multiple Division **

**Equal Divisions **

**Theory of Multiple Division **

** VII. Irregular Systems **

**Modifications of Regular Temperaments **

**Temperaments Largely Pythagorean **

**Divisions of Ditonic Comma **

**Metius’ System **

Good

Temperaments

**VIII. From Theory to Practice **

**Tuning of Keyboard Instruments **

**Just Intonation in Choral Music **

**Present Practice **

**Literature Cited **

**Index **

**Intervals with Superparticular Ratios **

### LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

**Frontispiece: Fludd’s Monochord, with Pythagorean Tuning and Associated Symbolism **

**Fig. A. Schneegass’ Division of the Monochord **

**B. The Mesolabium **

**C. Roberval’s Method for Finding Two Geometric Mean Proportionals **

**D. Nicomedes’ Method for Finding Two Geometric Mean Proportionals **

**E. Strähle’s Geometrical Approximation for Equal Temperament **

**F. Gibelius’ Tuning Pipe **

**G. Mersenne’s Keyboard with Thirty-One Notes in the Octave **

**H. Ganassi’s Method for Placing Frets on the Lute and Viol **

**I. Bermudo’s Method for Placing Frets on the Vihuela **

*Chapter I. HISTORY OF TUNING AND TEMPERAMENT *

*Chapter I. HISTORY OF TUNING AND TEMPERAMENT*

The tuning of musical instruments is as ancient as the musical scale. In fact, it is much older than the scale as we ordinarily understand it. If primitive man played upon an equally primitive instrument only two different pitches, these would represent an interval of some sort – a major, minor, or neutral third; some variety of fourth or fifth; a pure or impure octave. Perhaps his concern was not with interval as such, but with the spacing of soundholes on a flute or oboe, the varied lengths of the strings on a lyre or harp. Sufficient studies have been made of extant specimens of the wind instruments of the ancients, and of all types of instruments used by primitive peoples of today, for scholars to come forward with interesting hypotheses regarding scale systems anterior to our own. So far there has been no general agreement as to whether primitive man arrived at an instrumental scale by following one or another principle, several principles simultaneously, or no principle at all. Since this is the case, there is little to be gained by starting our study prior to the time of Pythagoras, whose system of tuning has had so profound an influence upon both the ancient and the modern world.

The Pythagorean system is based upon the octave and the fifth, the first two intervals of the harmonic series. Using the ratios of 2:1 for the octave and 3:2 for the fifth, it is possible to tune all the notes of the diatonic scale in a succession of fifths and octaves, or, for that matter, all the notes of the chromatic scale. Thus a simple, but rigid, mathematical principle underlies the Pythagorean tuning. As we shall see in the more detailed account of Greek tunings, the Pythagorean tuning per se was used only for the diatonic genus, and was modified in the chromatic and enharmonic genera. In this tuning the major thirds are a ditonic comma (about 1/9 tone) sharper than the pure thirds of the harmonic series. When the Pythagorean tuning is extended to more than twelve notes in the octave, a sharped note, as G#, is higher than the synonymous flatted note, as Ab.

The next great figure in tuning history was Aristoxenus, whose dispute with the disciples of Pythagoras raised a question that is eternally new: are the cogitations of theorists as important as the observations of musicians themselves? His specific contention was that the judgment of the ear with regard to intervals was superior to mathematical ratios. And so we find him talking about parts

of an octave rather than about string-lengths. One of Aristoxenus’ scales was composed of equal tones and equal halves of tones. Therefore Aristoxenus was hailed by sixteenth century theorists as the inventor of equal temperament. However, he may have intended this for the Pythagorean tuning, for most of the other scales he has expressed in this unusual way correspond closely to the tunings of his contemporaries. From this we gather that his protest was not against current practice, but rather against the rigidity of the mathematical theories.

Claudius Ptolemy, the geographer, is the third great figure in early tuning history. To him we are in debt for an excellent principle in tuning lore: that tuning is best for which ear and ratio are in agreement. He has made the assumption here that it is possible to reach an agreement. The

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